Something old, something new and something borrowed just blew into Lindenhurst. After years of being under the stewardship of BroadHollow, the 138-seat Studio Theatre on South Wellwood Avenue is now under new ownership.
Well, not exactly new to the theater. In fact, new proprietor Bob O’Neill started with BroadHollow when he was 17, appearing in The Boyfriend back when the company was located on Route 110. Now 52, O’Neill spent three decades performing with Pat and Jerry Zaback’s enterprise, so when the couple sensed “it was time to pare back a little bit,” says O’Neill, “the timing was right for them and for me.”
O’Neill purchased the venue—and its subscriber list—for an undisclosed sum on January 1, 2010. He also inherited the organization’s current season, which ends, this month, with two comedies: And the Winner Is… (April 24-May 16), by Tuesdays with Morrie scribe Mitch Albom, and The Long Weekend (May 22-June 12) by Canada’s answer to Neil Simon, Norm Foster.
Regarding 2010-11, O’Neill tells Pulse, “I’ve scheduled a meeting with a number of directors and performers. We’ll sit down over coffee and donuts with a bunch of scripts and lay out next season.” Since he has no intention of “tinkering with the formula” of comedies, dramas and lesser-known vehicles that have been the Studio Theatre’s staple under BroadHollow, the real surprise is that, post-recession and in a societal climate never less than frosty to the arts, O’Neill expects to be in the black—and quickly. “I crunched the numbers,” he says, “and I think I can make a profit. My goal for year one is to break even. Build an inventory of costumes, set pieces, flats… The bones are there, such as the lighting grids and soundboards. We’re just starting from scratch on everything else. So my wife and I drive a minivan up and down the streets looking for throwaways.”
And, yes, that’s Mrs. O’Neill at the box office, while their ten-year-old son builds sets and their two daughters assist in operations. “I didn’t go into this business to give up my day job,” says dad, who holds a long-standing position in the media business. “At the end of the day, the goal is to provide the best quality theater at reasonable prices.”
DAVE’S NEW YORK CITY PICKS
Here are some well-received shows now playing off and way off Broadway.
An acclaimed look at the gay rights movement, pre-Stonewall, from the author of Old Wicked Songs. (New World Stages, 340 West 50th St.)
THE 39 STEPS
Like Avenue Q, this cleverly conceived, Hitchcockian romp follows a hit run on Broadway with a move to a more intimate venue. (New World Stages, 340 West 50th St.)
Marriage, Strindberg-style, in a Donmar Warehouse production that was sold out in London and is staged by filmdom villain, Alan Rickman. (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Raves have greeted this Roundabout revival of the Tennessee Williams’ chestnut, with the New York Times gushing thusly about Judith Ivey’s Amanda: “surely the performance of her career.” (Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th St.)